Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

Morale Boosting Songs of WW1

Florrie Forde

Florrie Forde was a popular music hall entertainer who came to England, aged 21, from Australia. She made her first appearance on the London stage in 1897 and her a powerful performances and charismatic stage presence and was soon in demand. Her popularity as a vaudeville entertainer made her one of the most sought after entertainers of the early twentieth century,

Her morale boosting songs during World War One were some of the most poplar songs of the time. These included songs which are still remembered today.

Down at the Old Bull and Bush
Pack Up Your Troubles in your old kit bag
It's a long way to Tipperary
Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty

Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty

Jack Dunn, son of a gun, somewhere in France today
Keeps fit doing his bit, up to his eyes in clay
Each night after a fight to pass the time along
He's got a little gramophone that plays this song

Take me back to dear old Blighty!
Put me on the train for London town
Take me over there
Drop me anywhere
Birmingham, Leeds, or Manchester, well, I don't care!
I should love to see my best girl
Cuddling up again we soon should be
Hurry me back to Blighty
Blighty is the place for me!

One day, Mickey O'Shea, out in a trench somewhere
So brave, having a shave, trying to part his hair
Mick yells, dodging the shells and lumps of dynamite:
"Talk of the Crystal Palace on a firework night!"

Take me back to dear old Blighty!
Put me on the train for London town
Take me over there
Drop me anywhere
Birmingham, Leeds, or Manchester, well, I don't care!
I should love to see my best girl
Cuddling up again we soon should be
Hurry me back to Blighty

Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty was written by Arthur J. Mills, Fred Godfrey and Bennett Scott in 1916. It was popular during the First World War and tells a story of fictional soldiers on the Western Front suffering from homesickness and their longing to return to "Blighty"..

During a recent visit to the IWM (North) I bought a set of WW1 memorabilia which contained a few replica WW1 morale boosting postcards and came across this image of a soldier in the trenches listening to this song and imagining himself back home with his folks and his sweetheart.

You can listen to Florrie Forde sing Take Me Back to Dear Old Blighty 
by clicking on the You Tube link below.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Hist Fic Saturday ~ The Pharmacist's Wife by Vanessa Tait

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Edinburgh,1869

12 April 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

The Pharmacist's Wife takes us back in time to the mean and moody streets of Victorian Edinburgh, back to a time when it was commonplace for women to be at the absolute mercy of the men who married them.

When Rebecca Palmer marries Edinburgh pharmacist,Alexander Palmer, she imagines that her life will be comfortable and even though the marriage is largely passionless, she doesn't question her husband's ability to know what's best for her. However, the controlling nature of her husband, and his experimental foray into the dark world of drug and drug addiction, leads Rebecca into some very dark places, especially when Alexander's experimentation of these new drugs threatens Rebecca's very sanity.

Whilst this is a dark and disturbing visit to Edinburgh, with all its shadowy and shady places, there is no doubt that everything comes alive beautifully, and so atmospheric is the narrative that you really feel as if you are living life alongside Rebecca, and watching in horror as her husband's controlling grip pulls ever tighter.

The author writes of Rebecca's struggle and manipulation so cleverly that the horror of what's unfolding makes you reel in disbelief and yet, it is Rebecca's strength of character and her determination to pull herself out of the darkness which gives the story its absolute strength.

The Pharmacist's Wife is a beautifully written Victorian melodrama which brings mid-nineteenth century, Edinburgh to life in all its dreadful detail and the story vividly highlights the plight of so many Victorian women who were never allowed to have their own voice.

Vanessa Tait grew up in Gloucestershire. She went to the University of Manchester and completed a Master's degree in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths College. The Pharmacist's Wife is her second novel.

Twitter @vanessa_tait


Friday, 18 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Old You by Louise Voss

Jaffareadstoo is thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Old You

Orenda Books
15 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for the invitation to be a part of this tour and for my copy of the book
What's it about..

Lynn Waites gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, other, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble. 

But is it Ed’s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

My thoughts about it..

The question I have to ask myself is why I haven’t read any of this author’s work before, because if this is the standard of her writing, well, it would seem that I’ve been missing out on a few treasures.

The Old You is a very good domestic noir thriller, the premise of which drew me in from the offset, especially as it seems, from the poignant start, that Lynn Naismith, and her husband, Ed, are facing a huge challenge when Ed is diagnosed with a rare form of early onset dementia. And as the story progresses, and Lynn and Ed’s lives get more and more complicated, so the slow burn of the thriller starts to kick in, and it does so in such a subtle and believable way, that I was constantly surprised by what I saw unfolding on the page before me.

I loved the way that the author brought both of these two complex characters alive in such a realistic way, stretching the reader’s perception so that I found my allegiances swapped and changed as their individual stories emerged. And as past and present start to converge, so the element of doubt starts to set in, until you are never really sure who is giving us the truth. There are so many facets to Lynn and Ed’s individual idea of honesty, that unpicking each of their stories becomes a real challenge. I really enjoyed trying to second guess where the story was leading, but all too often I had to rethink, back track and read again,  just to make sure I was still on the right track and that I hadn't missed anything in my excitement at turning the pages quickly.

The Old You is a dark and daring story with a subtle, and totally, believable edginess. It’s about the ambiguity of lives which are shrouded in secrets and lies, and credit to the skill of the author, who really does hold the reader in the palm of her hand, that when the dreadful jaw dropping truth finally emerges, it is as every bit as dramatic as I hoped it would be.

Over her eighteen-year writing career, Louise has had books out via pretty much every publishing model there is, from deals with major traditional publishing houses (Transworld and Harper Collins), to digital-only (the Amazon-owned Thomas & Mercer) and self-publishing – she and co-author Mark Edwards were the first UK indie-published authors to hit the No. 1spot on Amazon back in 2011. She has had eleven novels published in total, five solo and six co-written, a combination of psychological thrillers, police procedurals and contemporary fiction. Louise has an MA(Dist) in Creative Writing and also works as a literary consultant and mentor for writers at She lives in South-West London and is a proud member of two female crime-writing collectives, The Slice Girls and Killer Women.

Twitter @LouiseVoss1 #TheOldYou

@OrendaBooks #TeamOrenda


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Review ~ The Brighton Mermaid by Dorothy Koomson

17 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers and edpr for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust.

My thoughts about it..

When teenagers, Nell and Jude, discover the body of a young woman washed up on a Brighton beach in 1993, it sets into motion a chain of events which will have repercussions for the next twenty five years, when life, for both Nell, Jude and their families, is changed forever. As an adult, Nell finds it difficult to let go of the events of 1993, and in using her commentary, and that of her younger sister, Macy, we get a multifaceted and suspenseful story which looks into the very heart of a dark and tragic mystery. 

Throughout the story the many layers of The Brighton Mermaid are stripped bare and the complex twists and turns in the story certainly kept me guessing. Many times I thought I knew which way the story was going, only for it to veer off in a completely different direction, with the last third of the book being particularly tense, when my anxiety levels shot up another notch or two.

The characterisation is particularly well done and Nell comes across as a scarily, realistic person who is just as flawed as the rest of us but she has an amazing strength of character which is so believable that you can't help but be her champion. However, it it is in the intricate details of the other characters who flit into and out of the story where the strength of the story lies, and yet, to disclose anything about them would be to reveal too much, so I won't divulge anything at all, as this is one of those cleverly put together stories which is better if it’s read with no spoilers from me.

The Brighton Mermaid is a complex and intricate story which grabs your attention from the very beginning and takes you on a shadowy journey which is layered with details of systemic racial abuse, overt sexism and a blatant disregard for truth and justice. 

I have read all of Dorothy Koomson's stories to date and I think her writing just gets better and better and with The Brighton Mermaid I really do think that she has surpassed herself.

Dorothy Koomson is the author of thirteen bestselling novels. Books and reading have always played a pivotal role in Dorothy's life and she fell in love with drama and fantasy of fictional worlds at an early age and has been making up stories since she was thirteen. Passionate about the importance of reading and literacy, Dorothy is a regular speaker in libraries and festivals and supports the work of the National Literacy Trust and Little Green Pig, a charity based in Brighton and Hove.

Twitter @DorothyKoomson #TheBrightonMermaid



Amazon UK

The Brighton Mermaid is published by Century today

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on Meet Me at the Museum Blog Tour

17 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my invitation to be part of this Blog Tour 

What's it all about..

Sometimes it takes a stranger to really know who you are When Tina Hopgood writes a letter of regret to a man she has never met, she doesn’t expect a reply. When Anders Larsen, a lonely museum curator, answers it, nor does he. They’re both searching for something, they just don’t know it yet. Anders has lost his wife, along with his hopes and dreams for the future. Tina is trapped in a marriage she doesn’t remember choosing. Slowly their correspondence blossoms as they bare their souls to each other with stories of joy, anguish and discovery. But then Tina’s letters suddenly cease, and Anders is thrown into despair. Can their unexpected friendship survive?

What did I think about it..

This gentle, epistolary novel focuses on the shared experiences of two unlikely people who start a correspondence based on their shared interest in the Tollund Man. Their interest in the Iron Age isn't really what the story is about , although I did find some of the descriptions of Tollund Man quite fascinating, however, it is in the quiet build-up of a relationship between two lonely people where the story finds its heart.

The letters between Tina Hopgood in Bury St Edmunds and museum curator Anders Larsen at the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark gradually expose the loneliness of their lives and their regret at time passing. Their considerate and, almost, rueful recollections of the relationship they each have had with their respective spouses and children, adds a perceptive glimpse into those reminisces which come all too frequently in later life.

There's a real difference in reading a novel which is entirely epistolary as it gives the story a unique ability to get right into the minds of the characters and Meet Me at the Museum, succeeds where perhaps a conventional novel wouldn't, as it allows a unique perspective into the souls of the correspondents in an intimate and inclusive way.

Quietly thoughtful with a sensitive and considerate look at all the vagaries of life, Meet Me At The Museum is a story which is expressed with kindness, gentle humour and an awareness that love can be found, often in the most unlikely of places.

ANNE YOUNGSON worked for many years in senior management in the car industry before embarking on a creative career as a writer. She has supported many charities in governance roles, including Chair of the Writers in Prison Network, which provided residencies in prisons for writers. She lives in Oxfordshire and is married with two children and three grandchildren to date. MEET ME AT THE MUSEUM is her debut novel, which is due to be published around the world.

Twitter #MeetMeAtTheMuseum


Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ The Dissent of Annie Lang by Ros Franey

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on The Dissent of Annie Lang Blog Tour

Muswell Press
8 April 2018

My thanks to the publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book and my invitation to be part of the blog tour

What's it all about..

Set in the 1930’s, this novel explores the dark space between public and private morality and charts the journey of brave formidable Annie Lang who dissents from her parents’ path to right the wrongs hidden in the heart of her own family.

What did I think about it..

We first encounter Annie Lang in 1932, at the start of the novel, when she is a seventeen year old student newly returned from France. Rather cleverly, we are guided back, by her, to the time of her childhood, in the aftermath of a family tragedy, which releases memories of her growing up with her brother, Fred and sister, Beatrice.That this tragedy darkens her life, and that of her siblings, goes without saying, but it is also the sad and rather gloomy story of Annie’s troubled upbringing, in a deeply religious house, by her indifferent father and her unpleasant stepmother, which really cuts to the quick.

In many ways, The Dissent of Annie Lang is a cleverly controlled coming of age story in which Annie finds some hidden and horrible truths and yet, it is also the story of Annie’s absolute determination to right a wrong which threatens the stability of the whole of her family. Throughout the story I was beguiled by Annie, by her spirit, her waywardness and her ability to get into mischief, and even though the oppressive nature of her home threatens to drain away any happiness from her, she is able to find some lighter moments with her dog, Nana. 

Beautifully written and utterly engaging, The Dissent of Annie Lang takes us into the very heart of a fractured family and even in the oppressive atmosphere of this deeply troubled household, Annie's indomitable spirit refuses to be intimidated. Her toughness and steadfastness in light of such a deeply disturbing secret is what made me keep turning the pages and the author has instilled in Annie such a lively spirit that you can’t help but be on her side throughout the whole of the story.

Ros Franey grew up in the Midlands where this book is set. She is a maker of award-winning documentaries, including two films about the Guildford 4 which, along with the book she co-authored Timebomb, contributed to the quashing of their case. This is her second novel. She lives in Camden, North London.

Twitter @rosfraney #DissentofAnnieLang


Monday, 14 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ Mr Peacock's Possessions by Lydia Syson

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to host today's stop on Mr Peacock's Possessions Blog Tour

17 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book and the invitation to be part of this blog tour

What's it all about..

The novel is loosely based on the incredible true story of Tom Bell who settled on an uninhabited pacific island with his family in 1878, six hundred miles north of New Zealand, in the Kermedecs, and who Lydia is related to by marriage.

What did I think about it..

After several failed financial ventures, the eponymous, Mr Peacock gathers together enough money to purchase Monday Island, a remote place in the Pacific Ocean. He then embarks, with his family, on a journey of discovery to a magical place with deserted beaches, wonderful waterfalls and clouds of birds. However, the Peacocks, find out, to their cost, that living on such a remote island isn't quite the idyll it seems. 

Living so eccentrically seems to come, almost, naturally to the family but eking out an existence takes its toll on their welfare and eventually they realise that, in order to survive, they need help. And then, unexpectedly, a group of young men, who are native Pacific islanders, and also Christian converts, arrive on the island, but with their arrival comes uncertainty, thus giving the story a whole new dynamic.

Setting the novel in 1879 is inspired as it allows the characters to behave with all the constraints placed upon them by society as a whole, and yet, their very freedom on the island, is peppered with uncertainty and deeply dark secrets. Mr Peacock's Possessions has, at its heart, a family who are so dysfunctional, that it takes a while to get into their way of thinking and to understand their strained relationship with each other,

Within the whole of the Peacock’s island adventure there is much to digest, not just in the preciseness of the story, which focuses on survival and sustainability, but also on the quirks and foibles of the individual family members, and in particular that of the eldest daughter, Lizzie, a feisty and determined girl, who is more than a match for her wayward and obstreperous father.

Interspersed between the chapters about life with the Peacocks there is an interesting narrative by Kalala, one of the young islanders, in which we are given a very different view of the family, and of what’s happening to all of them on Monday Island.

The author writes well, and has used considerable research, alongside some personal family history, to bring this story alive. That this is done in such a distinctive way is credit to her skill as a storyteller, which brings Monday Island, the place and its eccentric inhabitants so vividly to life.

Lydia Syson is a fifth-generation North Londoner who now lives south of the river with her partner and four children. Lydia began her career as a BBC World Service radio producer, after receiving a double first in English from Oxford and an MA in critical theory from Southampton University. She has since written three critically acclaimed historical novels for young adults, each in some way inspired by the radical backgrounds of earlier generations of her family. Mr Peacock’s Possessions is Lydia Syson’s debut literary fiction novel for adults.

Twitter @LydiaSyson #

@Bonnier Zaffre

Amazon UK

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

Scheduled (or reserved) Occupations

In March 1916 voluntary enlistment wasn't deemed sufficient to meet the demands of war. Under the terms of the Military Service Act 1916 all medically fit single men between the ages of 19 and 41 were deemed to have enlisted in the armed forces on 2 March.

In May 1916 a second Government act extended conscription to married men and the age limit was lowered to 18. Conscripted men had no choice about which service, regiment or unit they joined.

By 1918 the age range had been further extended to age 51.

There were some exemptions to the call up :

Coal miners
Iron and steel workers who produced vital equipment and ammunition.

The Forces at Home: Recruitment poster showing a small girl sitting on her father's knee captioned 'Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?
© IWM (Q 33122)

Those who considered themselves exempt due to poor health, disability or family restrictions, had to apply to a tribunal to be considered for exemption.

Those who were exempt from military service were issued with papers and badges to prove they were undertaking war work. This lessened the societal pressure on those who didn't or couldn't join up and gave them the opportunity to show that they were working in the national interest.

First World War 'On War Service' badge. 'On War Service' badges were issued by the government and private firms from December 1914 onwards to signify that the wearer was engaged in essential war work.

This is a circular enammelled metal badge with '1915' in gold-coloured metal inlaid within a maroon horizontal band (forming a diameter) of the white enamel centrepiece which is in turn enclosed by a blue band bearing in gold the inscription: 'ENGAGED ON GOVERNMENT WORK.

© IWM (INS 7804)

Saturday, 12 May 2018

His Fic Saturday...The Illumination of Ursula Flight by Anna-Marie Crowhurst

On Hist Fic Saturday

Let's go back to ...Restoration, England

Allen and Unwin
3 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers and for my copy of this book

Ursula Flight’s journey into the world began on the night of the great comet of 1664. With this auspicious beginning, Ursula was never going to be an ordinary girl. Taught reading, writing and astronomy by her father, Ursula had a thirst for knowledge and desire for adventure which eventually sees her taking to the London stage. However, Restoration England was a brash and vulgar place and to achieve success in this world, Ursula had to use her considerable wits to survive and thrive. 

Ursula isn’t your usual delicate romantic heroine, she is bold and brave and so beautifully depicted that her character literally leaps of the page and grabs you by the hand as she explores the thespian world she so craves. A passionate writer and playwright from an early age, Ursula uses her considerable skill to tell her story with great gusto. Part narrative, part play, part diary, this unusual way of telling the story captured my imagination, and I had great fun in following Ursula’s adventures, both at her home in the village of Bynfield, and later when she makes her mark on the great city of London. 

The author has captured all the essence of Restoration England and brings this rather bawdy world to life in a very readable way. Time and place is captured beautifully and I especially enjoyed the way the story wrapped itself so perfectly around Ursula’s forceful personality. 

Really well done from the very beginning, The Illumination of Ursula Flight is a lively and, at times, mischievous journey through the whims and fancies of Restoration England. 

About the Author

Anna-Marie Crowhurst read English at King's College London and has worked as a freelance fashion and culture journalist for more than 15 years, contributing to publications including The Times, The Guardian, Time Out, Stylist and Emerald Street, for whom she currently covers books, entertainment and lifestyle, as well as writing a weekly column going out to 150,000 like-minded women every Sunday:

Her debut novel The Illumination of Ursula Flight was written during her recent MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and was supervised by the award-winning novelist Tessa Hadley. Anna-Marie graduated with distinction in 2017. She lives in London.

Twitter @Writercrow #UrsulaTakesFlight


  I read this book as part of the Love Reading Review Panel. You can read more reviews here


Friday, 11 May 2018

Author Spotlight ~ Gail Aldwin

It is with great pleasure that I introduce the author in my spotlight

Gail Aldwin

Hi Gail, welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for spending time with us today..

I’m delighted to join you on Jaffa Reads Too. My name is Gail Aldwin and I am the author of Paisley Shirt a collection of short fiction. In April, I was delighted to find Paisley Shirt had been longlisted in the Best Short Story category of the Saboteur Awards. These annual awards are designed to highlight small-scale literature so I’m delighted my collection has achieved this recognition. Although working on a collection involves considerable independent work, today I’d like to share with you my experience of working collaboratively.

Although writing is perceived to be an isolated occupation, writers frequently seek collaborative support from others through membership of writing groups. Here stories are shared and critiqued to support redrafting. Some writers have critique partners who exchange manuscripts for feedback and comment. There are also online possibilities to find beta readers to support the development of writing. While these are examples of how collaboration can support the individual writer, I’ve gone a step further and have sought to work with others on co-written projects.

I’m part of a collaboration working on a 90-minute screenplay called The F Word. This tells the story of a woman who takes her friends on a foraging experience to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. You can imagine things don’t work out as the birthday girl expects with all sorts of shenanigans taking place. In working on this script alongside four other women writers, I have learnt so much about different approaches to writing. We had to do a lot of work on the backstories of the characters in order to be competent at writing in a consistent voice. Likewise, detailed plotting was necessary to ensure no one veered from the agreed story line when it came to divvying up the writing tasks. So, although sections of the screenplay are written individually, the product is developed through collaboration. 

As an offspring from the screenwriting group, three of us started a collaborative group working on comedy shorts. I am the least experienced in writing comedy and I learnt so much from my partners in how to set up humour. We have enjoyed success with Killer Ladybugs, a short play which applies Trump’s America-First policies to a loveliness of ladybirds. Cast Iron Acts in Brighton staged this last year. We continue to work together to develop sufficient material for a short play night. We are lucky in Dorset to have organisations willing to support emerging writers so we are confident this will happen at some point in the future.

In terms of Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction published by Chapeltown Books, it has been in the promotion and marketing of this book that collaboration occurs. As Chapeltown Books is a small, independent publisher there is an expectation that authors will help to sell the books. Through a closed group on Facebook, I am in contact with other Chapeltown authors where we share tips and advice for marketing our work. There are currently eight collections in the series of ‘little square books’ which all have the same border design and title font but different cover images. It is great to have Paisley Shirt in the company of other collections including the vividly written Brightly Coloured Horses by Mandy Huggins and Potpourri’s glimpses of life by Anusha VR. Other collections such as Badlands by Alyson Faye send terror shooting through the veins and From Light to Dark and Back Again by Allison Symes has you absorbed. But, if you’re interested in a life affirming collection of short fiction, Paisley Shirt is the book for you. It contains twenty-seven fascinating stories that reveal the extraordinary nature of people and places.

Twitter  @gailaldwin

Gail’s new collection of short fiction Paisley Shirt is available here or you can order it from any good bookshop.

My thanks to Gail for being the author in my spotlight today. It's been great to share this fascinating guest post.

To find out more about Gail please visit her blog or connect on social media.

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Review ~ The Cornish Dressmaker by Nicola Pryce

3 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

Cornwall, 1796.

Seamstress Elowyn Liddicot's family believe they've secured the perfect future for her, in the arms of Nathan Cardew. But then one evening, Elowyn helps to rescue a dying man from the sea, and everything changes. William Cotterell, wild and self-assured, refuses to leave her thoughts or her side - but surely she can't love someone so unlike herself?

With Elowyn's dressmaking business suddenly under threat, her family's pressure to marry Nathan increasing, and her heart decidedly at odds with her head, Elowyn doesn't know who to trust any more. And when William uncovers a sinister conspiracy that affects her whole world, can Elowyn find the courage to support the people she loves in the face of all opposition?

My thoughts about it..

In The Cornish Dressmaker we travel back to the late eighteenth century, back to a very different world where women were only deemed to be as good as the man they married, and even though Elowyn Liddicot is a successful seamstress, it is still considered more important that she marries well. Being courted by local man, Nathan Cardew, appears to be a good match, that is, until the wild and mercurial, William Cotterell appears in the most unlikely of circumstances and totally disturbs Elowyn’s peace of mind. 

Elowyn’s inherent connection to the wild and windswept coastline and her association with the great and the good of the area give her a certain amount of social status, and yet, with social recognition comes responsibility, and Elowyn finds out, to her cost, that her kind heart and compassionate nature, may result in her social downfall. Discovering secrets about her family puts Elowyn in a quandary which will place those around her in grave danger. The struggle that takes places as Elowyn fights to discover those secrets is never going to be straightforward and that's what makes the story so appealing. 

Wonderfully recreating the past in a very believable way, The Cornish Dressmaker brings to life all the sights, sounds and atmosphere of a Cornish village. A village which, though beholden to its heritage past, is also struggling with a fair amount of poverty, and as families fall on hard times, there are also those who are determined to exploit them with underhand dealings. The twists and turns in the plot add a frisson of excitement as the Cornish world with its chequered history of illicit smuggling, and tin and clay mining comes gloriously to life.

In this third book of the series, the author has continued to weave a wonderful story about characters who are now as familiar as friends, and returning to the Cornish villages of Fosse and Porthcarrow now feels like coming home. The story flows beautifully and the characters who flit into and out of the story add such warmth and depth that you can't help but be carried along with them as their story unfolds.

It’s perfectly possible to read The Cornish Dressmaker as a standalone story although, as always, with any series, it's much better to have followed the series from the beginning.

Nicola Pryce trained as a chemotherapy nurse before completing an Open University degree in Humanities. She is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer and lives with her husband in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset. Together they sail the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure.

Twitter @NPryce_Author #TheCornishDressmaker


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Review ~ What Falls Between The Cracks by Robert Scragg

Allison& Busby
19 April 2018

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

When a severed hand is found in an abandoned flat, Detective Jake Porter and his partner Nick Styles are able to DNA match the limb to the owner, Natasha Barclay, who has not been seen in decades. But why has no one been looking for her? It seems that Natasha’s family are the people who can least be trusted.

Delving into the details behind her disappearance and discovering links to another investigation, a tragic family history begins to take on a darker twist. Hampered by a widespread fear of a local heavy, as well as internal politics and possible corruption within the force, Porter and Styles are digging for answers, but will what they find ever see the light of day?

My thoughts about it..

I'm always interested when a new investigative duo make an appearance and Detective Inspector Jake Porter and Detective Sergeant Nick Styles have certainly got off to a promising start in this first book in a new crime series. 

Picking up the missing pieces of a thirty year old crime is always going to be fraught with difficulty and Porter and Styles certainly have their work cut out in trying to bring those responsible to justice. The mystery at the heart of the novel is well done and the complex chains which bind the whole thing together succeed with a clever edginess which kept my attention throughout the story. The twists and turns kept me guessing and I enjoyed trying to work out just where the complicated plot was heading.

As with any new series there is a certain amount of getting to know the characters and this is done with a realistic edge. I especially enjoyed the insight into the detective's lives, particularly that of Jake Porter who seems to have had more than his share of heartache. The two detectives work well together as a team, and I enjoyed reading their lively banter and the way they each have the other's back is testament to the strength of their working relationship. The other characters who make their appearance in this gritty crime story add an interesting balance of light and shade, the villains and the good guys mix together with comparative ease. The final few chapters are quite lively with lots going on and I enjoyed watching all the loose strands finally coming together in a dramatic showdown.

What Falls Between The Cracks is a very good debut novel, and gets the series off to a really promising start. I'm already looking forward to reading book two in the series by this talented new crime author.

Robert Scragg had a random mix of jobs such as bookseller and karate instructor before taking the dive into crime writing. He lives in Tyne & Wear, is a founding member of the North East Noir crime writers group and is currently writing the second Porter and Styles novel.

Twitter @robert_scragg #WhatFallsBetweenTheCracks


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ Stranger in my Heart by Mary Monro

Jaffareadstoo is delighted to be part of the blog tour for Stranger in my Heart 

9 June

My thanks to the author, publishers and Random Things Tours for my copy of this book
 and the invitation to be part of the blog tour

Stranger In My Heart (with foreword by HRH The Princess Royal) is about the search for understanding oneself, answering the question “Who am I?” by seeking to understand the currents that sweep down the generations, eddy through one’s own persona and continue on – palpable but often unrecognised.

My Thoughts about it..

In order to know where we are going, we need to know where we have come from and in this interesting biography of Lieutenant Colonel John Monro, his daughter, the author, has given us a glimpse into the life of a courageous man who was caught up in the events leading up to, and during, WW2. Lieutenant Colonel Monro was heavily involved in the Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, but was captured by the Japanese and interred as a prisoner of war. In 1942, he made a successful escape, travelling over 1200 miles of hostile country to reach China’s wartime capital at Chongqing.

When the author was growing up her father was a Shropshire farmer and she had no reason to be curious about his wartime exploits. However, as is so often the case, we never really know someone until they are gone from our lives, and following his death, the need to discover more about her father's past life turned into this fascinating biography. Putting together the missing pieces of Monro's life meant that some considerable research was needed, and by following in his footsteps and travelling across China, the author has written an intricately detailed portrayal of what made Lieutenant Colonel Monro into the person who was awarded the Military Cross for courage.

I read this biography over the course of several days, reading a chapter here and a chapter there, as the narrative is complex and intricately written, so to do the book justice I found it best to take my time with it, and not rush through it at top speed. Throughout the book I was always impressed with the care and fine attention to detail which gives so much fascinating information about a period in world history of which I knew absolutely nothing. 

Researching the life of her father must have been an emotional journey for the author and, to her credit, she has succeeded in doing so in a meaningful and thoughtful way.

Mary has written numerous technical and academic articles and is an experienced lecturer and presenter, but this is her first book. She lives in Bath with her husband, Julian Caldecott, and dog, Gobi. She practises as an osteopath in the picturesque Wiltshire town of Bradford on Avon. She treats people three days a week (see and treats horses and dogs one day a week ( and She is a Trustee of the Sutherland Cranial College of Osteopathy (SCCO) and Member of the Royal Society of Medicine. She was formerly a marketing consultant, with five years experience at what is now Price Waterhouse Coopers, and three years with strategy consultancy, P.Four (now part of WPP). She began her marketing career with Cadbury’s confectionery and retains a lifelong love of chocolate.

Mary was born and raised at a farm on the edge of the south Shropshire hills, the youngest of four children. She attended Shrewsbury High School from age four to eighteen. She spent much of her childhood on horseback, which left her with permanent damage to her right eye, a broken nose, broken knee-cap and broken coccyx. She has been bitten, kicked, rolled on, dragged, and has fallen off too many times to recall, but she still rides racehorses for fun.

Twitter @monro_m276 #StrangerInMyHeart


Unbound @unbounders

Monday, 7 May 2018

Review ~ Smash All The Windows by Jane Davis

Rossdale Print Productions

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

What's it all about..

For the families of the victims of the St Botolph and Old Billingsgate disaster, the undoing of a miscarriage of justice should be a cause for rejoicing. For more than thirteen years, the search for truth has eaten up everything. Marriages, families, health, careers and finances.

Finally, the coroner has ruled that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. Finally, now that lies have been unravelled and hypocrisies exposed, they can all get back to their lives.

If only it were that simple.

My thoughts about it..

All too often we watch dreadful disasters unfold on our television screens, and after the initial outrage, we spare little thought for those who are left to pick up shattered pieces of lives which have been terribly altered. However, it's not just about those who survive such a tragedy, it's also about the families left behind, those forgotten victims who have to fight for their voices to be heard when everything around them has gone quiet. 

Smash all the Windows shares the emotional aftermath of a London tube station disaster and we meet the families of the victims as they consider the ruling at the second inquest that the crowd did not contribute to their own deaths. That this second ruling comes thirteen years after the original disaster only proves, once again, just how slowly the wheels of justice turn. With little hope of a normal life, the families endure as best they can but irreversible loss just seems to get in the way of living any kind of life, and coping with the aftershocks of grief and heartache never end. 

This is a very different view of a difficult subject, and whilst the author confronts disaster in very contemporary style, she also brings her characters to life in a totally believable way. Running throughout the whole of the story is an aching vulnerability which I found quite heart-breaking, and yet, despite the burden of sadness which runs like an emotional thread, the story has, at its heart, a message of reconciliation and, dare I say it, a little bit of hope.

There is no doubt that Smash all the Windows is an emotional read, but it’s also an inspiring glimpse into the power of the human spirit, and how in the end, we all need to reach out to somebody, as we never really know when, or indeed how, our own journey will end.

Jane lives in Carshalton, Surrey with her Formula 1 obsessed, star-gazing, beer-brewing partner, surrounded by growing piles of paperbacks, CDs and general chaos. When she isn’t writing, you may spot her disappearing up a mountain with a camera in hand. Her favourite description of fiction is ‘made-up truth’.

Read an Interview with the Author here

Twitter @janedavisauthor

Amazon UK

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Sunday WW1 Remembered..

This is such an expressive poem which perfectly symbolises the hope of Spring against the sadness of war

Spring in War Time


Sara Teasdale

I feel the spring far off, far off,

The faint, far scent of bud and leaf—

Oh, how can spring take heart to come

To a world in grief,

Deep grief?

The sun turns north, the days grow long,

Later the evening star grows bright—

How can the daylight linger on

For men to fight,

Still fight?

The grass is waking in the ground,

Soon it will rise and blow in waves—

How can it have the heart to sway

Over the graves,

New graves?

Under the boughs where lovers walked

The apple-blooms will shed their breath—

But what of all the lovers now

Parted by Death,

Grey Death?

Sara Teasdale 1884 - 1933

Bluebell Wood in early Spring
© Jaffareadstoo

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Blog Tour ~ Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

On Hist Fic Saturday

I'm delighted to host today's stop on the Wartime at Woolworths Blog Tour

Pan Macmillan
3 May 2018

My thanks to the publishers and edpr for my invitation to be part of this blog tour

Wartime at Woolworths is the third moving installment in the much-loved Woolworths series by bestselling author Elaine Everest.

Elaine Everest

I'm thrilled to share this exclusive extract from Wartime at Woolworths 

‘Mum, Dad is just a working-class man who holds down an important job just like many other people in the war. Why, Maisie’s David has an extremely important job in the RAF, even if we don’t know what it is, and Maisie has three youngsters to care for, she does her war work and does very well with her sewing business. You do very little by her standards. I’m surprised you’ve not been called up for war work considering you’re still young enough.’ 

Irene flinched. Her daughter’s words had hit home and more than dented the armour she wore as she tried to shake off the humble roots of her childhood. ‘As it happens, I have received a letter. That’s why I invited you to visit today so that I could ask your advice.’ She stubbed out her cigarette in an ornate glass ashtray and delved into a tan leather handbag by her side before thrusting the letter towards her daughter. 

Sarah put Georgina to the ground amongst her dolls and pulled the letter from its official-looking envelope. After carefully reading the three paragraphs she returned it to Irene. ‘Do you plan to attend the appointment at the labour exchange? It seems you’ve conveniently missed

two others. Mum, you do realize you could get yourself into awfully serious trouble with the authorities by not doing your bit for the war effort?’ 

Irene flapped her hand in the air, dismissing her daughter’s comment. ‘I’m still helping out with the WVS and wasn’t it me who suggested the fundraising dinner dance at the golf club?’ 

Sarah was astounded at her mother’s attitude. ‘And no doubt when Hitler and his troops come marching through Kent you’ll arrange a dinner dance to welcome him!’

Wartime at Woolworths by Elaine Everest is published on 3rd May by Pan Mac (available in paperback and ebook, price £6.99)

Twitter @ElaineEverest #WartimeAtWoolworths